Building a Better Community Through Affordable Home Ownership


Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia and The Stafford Foundation Volunteers Build New Home in Northern Virginia

Media Contact: Jennifer Mulchandani, Director of Marketing & Communications
Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia
Office: 703-521-9890, extension 105
Direct Cell: 703-304-0465

Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia and The Stafford Foundation Volunteers Build New Home in Northern Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Falls Church, Va.: Volunteers from The Stafford Foundation will help Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia continue to build a single family, 3-bedroom home on Douglass Avenue in Falls Church, Va. on Saturday, Apr. 5 from 9AM-3PM. This will be Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia’s 81st new home built since 1990.

Volunteers from The Stafford Foundation’s partner, Carpenter’s Shelter of Alexandria will participate in the building day. The Stafford Foundation is partnering with teams from the nonprofit organizations that contributed to the foundation’s “People’s Inaugural Project” in 2009.

Last month, The Stafford Foundation teamed up with Central Union Mission to work on the home, and in May, N Street Village will participate.

“The entire team learned a lot working with Habitat for Humanity and its Sand Lot crew,” said Earl W. Stafford, founder and chairman of The Stafford Foundation. “Our entire team read about the family who will be occupying the house, and was able to work alongside the husband and wife and get to know them. It gave everyone a sense of deep satisfaction knowing that they were helping a family in need.”

In addition to providing volunteer labor, The Stafford Foundation also contributed more than $50,000 to Habitat NOVA during the past year. This partnership underwrites the cost of home building, allowing Habitat NOVA to keep the price of the home affordable for the first time home buyer.

“The Stafford Foundation’s commitment to our mission of providing affordable home ownership makes a direct impact on the lives of the family that will live in the home, but also will make future projects possible,” said Rev. Jon Smoot, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia.

“It is a very satisfying and rewarding experience to work with Habitat for Humanity, and encouraging to see so many people giving their time selflessly,” Stafford said.

Virginia is the 9th least affordable state, according to the Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance, whose data show average rents in Fairfax of $1,500 for a two-bedroom apartment. The data highlights a growing need for affordable housing, with renters needing to earn $60,000 to be able to afford a 2-bedroom apartment.

About Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia

Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia’s unique model of affordable housing is focused on home ownership. Habitat homeowners secure a no-interest mortgage, while the non-profit secures corporate sponsorship, in-kind donations, and volunteer labor to make the home affordable. Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia (Habitat NOVA) was founded in 1990, and to date has built 80 homes, rehabilitated 4 homes and repaired 20 homes, benefiting more than 400 people. As a local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, Habitat NOVA serves the counties of Fairfax and Arlington and the Cities of Falls Church, Fairfax, and Alexandria. More information is available at

Read more about this home on Habitat NOVA’s webpage.

Douglass Avenue Home


This single family, 3-bedroom home will be Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia’s 81st new home built since 1990. Habitat homeowners secure a no-interest mortgage, while the non-profit secures corporate sponsorship, in-kind donations, and volunteer labor to make the home affordable.


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Habitat Herald March 2014

Habitat of Humanity of Northern Virginia’s March newsletter.


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Enthusiastic Volunteer Wins Facebook Build Day

photo 3In January, Habitat NOVA held a Facebook contest when a generous donor sponsored a build day but then offered it to us to ‘give away.’  The winner of that Facebook contest, Francesca Laursen from McLean, traded in her computer for a hardhat on Saturday, Feb. 22 at the Douglass Avenue building site in Falls Church.

Laursen, a mother of three who spends her weekdays doing advocacy for migrant farm workers, grew up in Jamaica and has lived around the country and the world.  She found Habitat NOVA when she moved back to the Washington, DC area two years ago.

“I wanted to build with my son,” she said. “I’m trying to get him to do different things. I wanted to help him get out of his box, along with experiencing the joy of giving.”

photo 2She “liked” Habitat NOVA on Facebook to hear about opportunities to volunteer on a build site. When the contest came up, she knew she wanted to enter and get a group together to build. “Our theme was house hoisters, because we would be building a house from the ground up,” Laursen said.

Although she likes to tackle her own home improvement projects, this was her first time building a new home. She enjoys changing paint colors and putting on new faucets. And, like any mother of three boys, she is very experienced at unclogging a toilet.

During the building experience, Laursen moved wood, lifted things, and did some caulking. “I thought we would do more hammering,” she said.

The crew included Laursen’s best friend Eilzabeth Ahn, her son, Kristian, and three of his friends, and her boss’s son.

photo 4Her son Kristian Laursen, a 17-year-old junior at Bishop O’Connell High School, became interested in Habitat NOVA when he reviewed opportunities to fulfill a community service requirement.

“It seemed interesting and fun,” he said.  “It was something new. I’ve never used power tools before.”  During his building experience, he carried a lot of wood, sawed wood, and hammered the wrap to the walls.  “I thought I’d be painting,” he said.

When the group decided against working on the second story of the site, “I learned my friends were afraid of heights, ” he said.

His friends Carmen Pizzano, Carina Norregaard and Anja Soderstrom-Feyzioglu said they enjoyed the building experience.  “It was a great experience to give back and work as a team,” they 5

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Interview with 15+ Year Volunteer: Dick Farner

photo 2-4On Saturday, Feb. 22, Dick Farner was where he is most Saturdays: working on a Habitat NOVA build site.

Farner is a member of Habitat NOVA’s “Sandlot Gang,” a dedicated, experienced group of volunteers who commit to building twice a week with Habitat NOVA.

Farner, a retired federal government IT professional, is a life-long Virginian. He grew up in Southeastern Virginia and today lives in Fairfax City.  He first interacted with Habitat NOVA more than 15 years ago, when he went to a volunteer recruitment meeting.

“When I retired, that’s what I wanted to do,” he said. “I started as a way to keep busy, but I get a sense of accomplishment from helping provide homes to those who otherwise wouldn’t have one. “

Even though he had built farm buildings as a dairy farmer, Farner had no home construction experience before he started volunteering with Habitat NOVA.  During the past 15 years, he has built on Habitat NOVA projects ranging from “A Brush with Kindness” repairs to condo units, to the single-family home on Douglass Avenue.

This weekend, Farner was working on windows on the Douglass Ave. home.  “My favorite part of the process is building,” he said. “I don’t really care for painting or cleaning up.”

Farner said his biggest challenge as a leader on the build site is keeping volunteers safe, while making sure they enjoy their experience. “I want them to do good work, and have a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day,” he said.

The volunteer experience gave Farner some practical skills he uses at home.  “I’ve gained confidence in my construction skills,” he said. “I tackle my own home repair projects that I might not have otherwise.”  He also enjoys working with his fellow volunteers, and has made a lot of good friends throughout the years.

Romana Sanchez
, Habitat NOVA’s Director of Construction, said Farner is a valuable part of the construction team.

“He’s a great bridge between the volunteers, sandlot and construction staff,” she said. “He’s great at bringing everyone together.”

Erica Painter, Habitat NOVA’s 
Volunteer Manager, said dedicated volunteers like Farner are essential to Habitat NOVA’s success.  “With such a small construction staff, dedicated, reliable volunteers like Dick are a major part of building homes,” she said.

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Tiny House – Big ReStore Savings!

Ever dream of a cozy, well-appointed home in the country — costing a fraction of what you pay now for housing? Young ReStore customer, Justin Haver, and his girlfriend, Crystal, are building it — minutes from ReStore-Chantilly in Aldie, Virginia. Check out their story at on the web and on Facebook.

Justin considers the Chantilly ReStore his local hardware store. “It’s a friendly place and you can hunt.”  james+justin haver@chantilly restore

Vice President of local, he visits ReStore at least 3 times a week on his way to work — hunting for deals on everything from tile to doors to bathroom fixtures.

How much $$ has ReStore saved him? He estimates just over $2,000 — and he and Crystal are just getting started.

The duo have a $10,000 budget and look forward to living off the grid on solar power. But don’t assume they plan to rough it!

One of their favorite ReStore finds: an Artisan Premium Collection Single Faucet — in Satin Nickel — found on Amazon for $292.50 — purchased at ReStore for $30!

Justin & Crystal’s other secrets for creating a tiny home off the grid:

Both are both strongly motivated to control costs — they have student loans to repay. They practice an open-minded “Reverse Sourcing” philosophy. First, they see what good quality materials are available, then they make final decisions on design.

They are handy. The son of a construction manager, Justin has fixed up houses, cars and motorcycles for years.

Most of all, it’s clear the couple is enjoying themselves, designing their future together. As Justin said, “if we survive this building, it’s meant to be.”

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Tell Congress to Pass the Weatherization Enhancement, and Local Energy Efficiency Investment and Accountability Act

Subzero temperatures, dangerous wind chills, and snow covering most of the country. This has been a winter for the record books! Imagine facing a winter like this in a home with inadequate insulation, a leaky roof or drafty windows.

That’s the reality for more than 30 million low-income families here in America whose energy bills are soaring with the recent cold temperatures. Tragically, they’re being forced to make impossible choices about whether to heat their homes, pay rent or mortgage, or buy essentials like food and medications. These families would greatly benefit from weatherization programs that allow Habitat to serve low-income families in need, just as Habitat can help other families by building energy-efficient homes.

Here’s the exciting news. Congress has an opportunity to help in a BIG way by passing the Weatherization Enhancement, and Local Energy Efficiency Investment and Accountability Act (S. 1213). Tell Congress to help Habitat keep helping families stay warm and reduce energy costs by passing this bill.

This bill will give Habitat the tools to provide families with permanent energy savings, making housing affordable by allowing them to meet other critical needs. No one should have to choose between staying warm and other basic life necessities. Help today by lending your voice to this important cause.

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New Roof for Local Family In Need


Habitat NOVA is pleased to be able to help families in need through our home repair program, A Brush With Kindness.  A local family can now relax knowing that upcoming rain or snow events won’t cause damage in their home.

“Thank you for your organization’s support to help replace our roof.  Our roof used to leak into the house whenever there was a heavy rain or snow melt.  Now it is much safer now for us to live here.  We are so grateful, you are a very special group of people and I thank you so much for your help.” — NOVA Homeowner

Thank you to our longtime roofing partner, Summit Roofing Contractors Inc. for doing such a good job on this project.


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Habitat NOVA Speaks with Students at The Islamic Saudi Academy

OneWorld2014Recently, Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia (Habitat NOVA) was contacted by a student of The Islamic Saudi Academy to come speak about Habitat NOVA at their One World/Heritage Day. Pheobe Bicknell, Outreach Manager, went and spoke to students in the Boys School about the importance of affordable home ownership and how they could become involved. She spoke with boys in the 10th, 11th and 12th grades and encouraged each student to become involved as volunteers or advocates for affordable home ownership in Northern Virginia.

The One World Committee is composed of students from both the Boys & Girls Schools and also featured a speaker from the American Red Cross, a female media personality and activities such as water purification and building a light bulb. In addition to hearing from nonprofit and community speakers, the students and teachers also discussed one of the five pillars of Islam – zakat or the practice of charitable giving.

Habitat NOVA thanks the One World Committee for inviting us to participate!  It was a great opportunity to speak with students and to learn more about the students interests in giving back to their community.

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Volunteers Needed as Community Ambassadors

community ambassadorWe are in search of individuals with positive attitudes, outgoing personalities and a desire to promote the Habitat for Humanity philosophy to serve as Community Ambassadors on our Marketing & Development Committee!

Community Ambassadors represent Habitat NOVA throughout the community, educating community members on our mission and advocating for affordable home ownership. As a Community Ambassador you will take part in a variety of community and networking events to raise awareness for Habitat NOVA.  Ambassadors will receive training and be well equipped to speak to the public about our mission, vision, programs and partner families. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to learn and practice marketing & development skills and make a positive impact on your community!

If you are interested in learning more about how to become a Community Ambassador or about our Marketing & Development Committee in general, please contact Victoria Baker, Resource Development AmeriCorps VISTA at

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Habitat Herald February 2014

Habitat of Humanity of Northern Virginia’s February newsletter.


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